Domesticity In Ethan Frome

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CANT GET NO SATISFACTION "Domesticity in the abstract did not interest her"(18). In this quote Edith Whartons life and outlooks on the world within the novel Ethan Frome are perfectly encapsulated. Although Whartons novels typically surrounded upper class New York society, Ethan Frome was out of sorts for author Edith Wharton; taking place on a poor mans farm in the outskirts of New York. Despite the difference of social upbringing, Wharton is able to mirror her emotional turmoil witnessed throughout Ethan Frome. Wharton also conveys her criticism of society's expectations for a happy life. Wharton reflects the hardships of her unloving marriage and search for a fulfilling love while revealing how the choice between passion and morality …show more content…

Ethan marries Zeena after Zeena comes to care for Ethan's sick mother. Ethan's mother eventually dies and just before Zeena leaves "he was seized with an unreasoning dread of being left alone on the farm" so to avoid facing loneliness he unconsciously asks her to marry him(35). Similarly Whartons expected marriage, Ethan merely married Zeena because "he felt obligated to her" and he was "not aware of the implications of having her was a wife"(66 Farwell). Whartons unromantic and incompatible marriage is seen in Ethan because he quickly realizes he is "not in love with her, he does not find her beautiful and mostly he does not find her interesting"(66). In addition to the similar incompatibility seen in Whartons marriage, Ethan's wife also begins to fall ill just as Teddy Wharton had. Zeena "becomes obsessed with her various aches and pains" neglecting Ethan and "falling silent"(64 Farwell). Ethan becomes miserable and starts to become hostile towards Zeena, while Zeena becomes "a hundred times more bitter and discontented than when he had married her"(64). Ethan begins to see "the long misery of his baffled past, of his youth failure, and hardships and vain" in Zeena(58). Based on the striking similarities it is often seen that "Frome is Wharton trapped in a loveless …show more content…

This common struggle is portrayed particularly in Ethan Fromes desire to leave his miserable marriage to Zeena in order to run away with his passionate affair with Mattie. Zeena recognizes Ethan's interest in Mattie, ordering that Mattie leave immediately, this causes Ethan to consider running off. While writing a letter to Zeena of his departure, he quickly realize that "[hes] been in a dream, and this is the only evening that [he and Mattie] will ever have together"(56) ultimately because running away would be a hopeless endeavor. Although, Ethan is unhappy, noticeable by his silence that "does not reflect emptiness, but, instead, mirrors veery present but muted morals"(Wendt 158), he chooses that his moral obligation to Zeena is more important. Yet "the facts of poverty and his marital obligation act like prison guards"(Carrol) causing eternal imprisonement in the soul of Ethan. In Whartons works "many of her characters strive for a balanced love and a balanced life"(Farwell 150), which Wharton draws attention to the fact that the goal of both a balanced love and life is essentially unattainable. No matter what people choose of passion and morality the cons will always outweigh the pros, leaving one unhappy no matter what one

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